Hey! I know I haven’t published in a bit. Between pre-trip planning, packing, and you know, actually arriving in and enjoying Croatia, things have been a little hectic around here.
And speaking of hectic, that word doesn’t even begin to describe what our first full day in Croatia was like.
After arriving in Zagreb on Wednesday, we got up way too early the next day to catch the bus to Plitvice Lakes National Park. If you know me then you know that I am not a morning person at all. I can do it if I do it on a regular basis. But given the choice? No way, José. Our plan was to catch the 8:30 AM bus to arrive at the park around 10 AM and we made it with no problem, especially because we made the smart choice to buy our bus ticket the day before (a move that I highly recommend). We arrived at the bus station early, seated, got comfy and then proceeded to knock out for the next hour or so.
So far, so good.
With a stroke of luck, I woke up literally minutes before our bus pulled up to our destination: Entrance 1 of Plitvice Lakes National Park. Spidey-senses, I guess. I quickly prodded my boyfriend awake like a small child on Christmas morning and we got off at our stop, unloaded our luggage and we rolled around the corner to the entrance.
And then we saw it.
Damn that queue.
I wish I had taken a photo of the line so long I’m not sure it’d have even fit into a photo if I had had the sense to take one.
No matter, we had plenty of time and so we joined the masses; I waited while A sorted out our luggage storage. Oh, and tons of guidebooks and blogs about Croatia tell you not to worry about your bags, there’s secure storage at the park, blah, blah, blah… Well, it turns out that the “secure” storage at Plitvice Lakes is actually just a large room that you can unlock with the single key you request at the information desk. Literally anyone could walk up, ask for the key to “drop off” or “return” a bag and walk off with someone else’s. Is it just me, or am I missing the security of this system? I mean, nothing was stolen from our bags, everything was untouched, but still…
Remember that queue to buy tickets and enter the park that I mentioned? It took us almost an entire hour to get to the front and buy our tickets.
Again, we smiled and shrugged it off. We were looking forward to having a great day touring and taking tons of photos, plus I had been dreaming of visiting Plitvice Lakes for years, even before the pretty Pinterest pictures blew up everywhere.
After we finally got our tickets, we made our way into the park and found signs outlining the different routes available in the park. We ended up on Path A, the shortest option available that lasts 2 – 3 hours around the lower lakes. This was our first mistake. See, I had really wanted to see the views from the upper lakes (like you see in all the pretty Pinterest pictures), but we ended up seeing the lower lakes. Still just as awesome, by the way.
As we made our way around the park seeing all the gorgeous waterfalls and fighting through crowds of people on narrow footpaths, we finally made it to what should have been the final stretch of Path A at Plitvice Lakes. However, we saw on the same marker, a sign pointing to the right for the boat. A boat ride?! Awesome!
That was pretty much my thought process at the moment.
So, we decided, “What the heck, let’s do it! We’ve got like 2 hours until we need to catch the bus to Split at 2:30.”
This is the part where all of you reading should immediately start thinking, “Oh no, girl.”
Oh no is right. This is pretty much the moment that started the downfall and almost ruined our day trip to my dream destination.
Here’s the thing about the boats to cross the main lake at Plitvice Lakes National Park.
- They only depart every half an hour.
- The line to board is looooong.
Long story short (as if I shouldn’t have wrapped it up before), by the time we finally boarded the boat and crossed to the other side, it was already 1:45. And we still had to catch a bus and another path to Entrance 1 where our suitcases were.
Needless to say, I was kind of panicking and sure that we were going to miss our bus to Split. Like, almost to the point of crying panicking.
I have to give a big shoutout to Alberto for being a far more relaxed person than I am and reassuring me that everything would be alright. Thanks to him, I didn’t completely lose it and give up hope that we would make it.
The short bus ride from Entrance 2 to Entrance 1 was filled with nerves and constant time checking. We then pretty much ran the path downward to the entrance. And hey, on my run down I did catch some spectacular views of the upper lakes like I wanted. Small consolation for my shot nerves.
Then we saw it, the entrance where we first entered the park. Time? Exactly 2:30 PM.
Alberto sprinted for the information desk to retrieve the key to get our luggage.
I sprinted for the bus stop, hoping to catch the bus before it left.
How lucky were we feeling?
Pretty damn lucky.
The bus hadn’t even arrived yet!
Alberto showed up with both of our suitcases just minutes before our bus arrived. We were sweaty, disgusting, and so grateful that everything worked out.
Looking back, I realize maybe extending our route in Plitvice Lakes wasn’t such a good idea and that we shouldn’t have pushed our luck with our schedule. I also know that things like this happen when you travel. You run late, you oversleep, life happens. It was a super stressful first full day in Croatia, but getting to finally see a place I’ve dreamed of seeing for years made it totally worth it.
That’s how my first misadventure at Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia went! Have you ever had any crazy mishaps on your travels? What happened? Comment here below with your story and even drop a link to your blog if you want. I want to hear all the stories! And follow The Path Itself for more travel misadventures like this one. Thanks!